Maryland Eastern Shore Office Update

From the Desk of Alan Girard

Spring 2018

More good news for the Bay!

For the first time since 1984, underwater grasses topped 100,000 acres–a major indicator that the Bay's heath is improving.

Why are grasses important? Submerged aquatic vegetation (or SAV) traps sediment, filters nutrients, and provides great habitat for crabs and fish.

And they wouldn't be coming back if the Bay wasn't getting cleaner. Scientists believe that clearer water is allowing more sunlight to reach the places where grasses need it to grow. It's a strong signal that the multi-state, bi-partisan Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is working.

The Blueprint provides accountability for results. It sets targets for the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment that needs to be reduced to meet scientifically determined standards for Bay water quality. Maryland and the other Bay states use Watershed Implementation Plans to guide investment and policy decisions that are keyed to achieving specific numeric pollution reduction goals.

Now at the midpoint of the Blueprint's 2025 full implementation target, CBF is reviewing the progress that's been made and looking to see where effort needs to be focused in the years ahead.

On the Shore, CBF's informal collaborative of non-profit partners called the Eastern Shore Blueprint Action Group is engaging local government officials to better understand where opportunities lie to accelerate clean-up work. Counties and towns have wide-ranging authority to manage pollution from sources like stormwater and wastewater. With input from local officials, CBF and partners recently issued detailed recommendations that call for assessing the progress of these localities, targeting future efforts, and supplying adequate resources that are capable of finishing the job of restoring water quality. The Maryland Department of the Environment to whom the recommendations are addressed is now in the midst updating the state's Watershed Implementation Plan that will guide clean-up work going forward.

While the Blueprint is central to guiding the Bay's recovery, policy makers–and our elected leaders in particular–also play a major role. CBF is investing heavily this election year in educating local, state, and federal candidates for office about the role government has in advancing targeted, high value actions that help the Chesapeake. Candidate forums are being planned in select counites on the Shore for those vying for local offices, and a forum for First Congressional District candidates is also in the works. Those running for public office who are educated about Bay restoration and engage with citizens on the issues are better prepared to be leaders in this work once elected.

Accountability for action makes a difference. Don't sit this one out. Make sure you do your part this election year to help ensure progress on the Bay's health continues.

—Alan Girard
Eastern Shore of Maryland Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation

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